Holiday: Jordan – Day 7 (22nd April)

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We’re in Jordan for 10 days with great mates, Ralph & Karen.

Welcome back! It’s Day 7, and after a four-hour drive from Petra yesterday, we’re back in Jordan’s capital, Amman. If you’ve missed any of my previous Posts, I’ve put the links below. Today we’re meeting our local Guide, Eddie, for a half-day historic tour around this ancient City.

Getting boring now! ๐Ÿ˜

Click for more about our Jordan Itinerary

What you may have missed…

Day 6 – Dead Sea/Return to Amman
Day 5 – Dana Biosphere Nature Reserve
Day 4 – Petra (Part 2)
Day 3 – Petra (Part 1)
Day 2 – Kerak Castle
Day 1 – Lazy Day
Day 0 – Arrival in Amman

New Hotel, New Breakfast!

7.55am: It’s our first day here in the rather super shiny/super modern: ‘The House Boutique Hotel‘. Appearances can be deceptive and it’s no good having all the gloss if you don’t get the basics right. Disappointingly, a few of those needed sorting yesterday when we arrived, so let’s see how well they manage breakfast! ๐Ÿค”

Oh yes, a good experience this morning, with pretty much anything you might require – except saucers and teaspoons. ๐Ÿฅด

9.02am: It’s an educational one today – look away now if ‘sun’, ‘sea’ and ‘sand’ is what you came here for! ๐Ÿ˜. With our cultural heads firmly screwed on, we met Eddie and our Driver for our morning of City appreciation – Amman.

Another day, another trip in the mini-bus!

A Short History of Amman

Good morning Amman! ๐Ÿ˜. Windolene anyone?

The first thing that you notice about Amman is that it’s BUSY. Plenty of people and plenty of cars do, in many respects, make it very similar to many other ‘hustle-bustle’ cities across the world – we even experienced our first traffic-jam on our way here yesterday! From ‘tea with goats’ (Day 5) to ‘bumper-to-bumper’ traffic, we’ve certainly experienced some extremes here, during our short time in Jordan.

Amman is split broadly into the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. 50% of the population of Jordan live in Amman, making it around 5 million all fighting the slightly inadequate road network. Driving in the city during the day is an absolute nightmare – eyes in the back of your head are essential, and a car made of Kevlar would be an advantage! Eeekkk! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ.

The Eastern part of the city is considered the ancient part whilst the West is the more affluent, with modern skyscrapers to match! Much like London, for those in the East, ‘going up West’ is an aspirational activity. More information about Amman is HERE.

The Mosque

9.08am: We were soon at our first cultural stop of the day – The Blue Mosque aka the King Abdullah Mosque. It was built between 1982 and 1989 and can accommodate 5000 Muslims. I’m not sure about the significance of the vacuum cleaner in the above photo though!

9.10am: On arrival, we were soon kitted out in the appropriate clothing to show respect! ๐Ÿ‘

Not my best look! ๐Ÿ˜’

Eddie gave us a very comprehensive understanding of the Muslim faith, ranging from the big important stuff to the less obvious ‘factoids’ including the significance of the 99 lanterns – not 98 or 100! – decorating the inside of the Mosque (shown in the photo above). Answers on a postcard, please! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ.

No excuse for being late for prayers!

9.29am: Technology plays an even bigger part these days it seems in ensuring that prayers are not missed! The above was displayed in the Mosque, but ‘there’s an app for that’ and the faithful can find out to the exact minute, what time they are supposed to be praying. The regular ‘calling to prayer’ is no longer carried out live, but via a recording played through loudspeakers and synchronised across the City. Who knew? ๐Ÿค”

The Citadel

10.11am: Our next stop was The Citadel – a long visit, but worth doing. It’s a natural history site featuring the remains of Roman, Byzantine and Ammonite architecture plus a small Museum (more about that later). The City’s name had been through a few changes over the years – initially called Rabbath Ammon (from around 5500 to 63BC), then Philadelphia – yes, really! (until 635AD) and finally acquiring its current name, Amman in 661AD. From here, we could see the largest Jordanian flag ever flown – a gigantic 60 x 30 metres!! More information HERE about the flag and its significance and more information HERE about The Citadel

Hercules Temple

We’re off! The first construction was impressive – Hercules Temple – where today there was a dress-rehearsal of some kind featuring flags from Jordan, New Zealand and Australia and the sound of bagpipes and a trumpet playing ‘The Last Post. It all seemed a little strange to hear this in the current location. ๐Ÿค”

The Byzantine Church

10.32am: Our next stop was the remains of a Byzantine Church dating back to around 550AD.

The Gateway

10.35am: The next building looked impressive just as it was, but we learned this was just ‘a gateway’. But the official gateway to the Royal Palace no less. Sadly, there wasn’t much of the Palace left.

The inside was just as impressive! Towards the top, you’ll see a WOODEN roof. Originally, this was carved in stone, but lost to the elements some time ago. When the country attempted to rebuild it again in stone using a Spanish Contractor, as part of a renovation project, it collapsed… TWICE! Modern technology apparently couldn’t match the skills originally used to construct it and so they decided to rebuild it out of wood instead.

Hammam (The Bath House)

10.55am: We knew that the Romans had Bath Houses, but this one, of course, was much earlier dating back to a period between 661-750AD. Plus, there was the small challenge of actually getting water to it given that the whole site sits on the top of a mountain! ๐Ÿค”

Simples! ๐Ÿ˜. They diverted the flow of where two rivers met some distance away, and it filled up the biggest water container I think I’ve ever seen. Add to that, a sophisticated overflow system so that if the water level is too high, it flowed (by design) back into the river flow (the overflow is the rectangular hole top centre). Clever stuff! ๐Ÿ‘

The Mosque

11.04am: We finished our tour looking around the remains of the Yumayyad Mosque. There wasn’t much of it to appreciate, but small parts had been uncovered, and they were in relatively good condition.

The Jolly Jordaneers all ‘cultured out’

There was a lot to take in this morning! For me, the overriding memory was one of how OLD everything was. This was further confirmed when we visited the on-site Museum.


11.10am: This was free to look around, and you should allow maybe 20-30 minutes, tops. Opened in 1952, there really is a lot of VERY old finds here covering the Palaeolothic Age up to Islamic Age, including pottery, metal and glass artefacts, in addition to inscriptions, coins and statues.

Although there was a lot to see, the lighting needed a bit of work. Many of the glass cabinets caused a lot of reflected light making photography extra challenging and viewing the items closeup, quite tricky. Worth a visit if this sort of thing interests you, but be aware of the limitations. You’ll find more information about the Museum HERE.

11.30am: Just time for coffee at the small cafรฉ on-site! Very good coffee BTW! ๐Ÿ‘. Back on the minibus, it was only a short journey to our next attraction.

The Amphitheatre

The Amphitheatre

11.55am: Even from a distance, the Amphitheatre was impressive. Seating 5000 and built in 2 AD, it’s still used today for entertainment. It’s the largest Amphitheatre in the Middle East and cost just 2 Jordanian Dinars (ยฃ2.50) to get in.

Top of the world!

12.05pm: Again, Karen ‘took one for the team’ and raced to the top (zoom in, and you should see her celebrating her arrival). Well, someone had to stay behind and take the photo!!! ๐Ÿ˜

12.10pm: Exhausted from all the photography, ๐Ÿ˜ our next stop was somewhat more relaxed – The Museum of Popular Traditions. This is a small Museum adjacent to the Amphitheatre, and we briefly wandered around. There isn’t a massive amount to see, but it’s very colourful and everything is well explained.

You only need to allow about 15-20 minutes to cover it all.

12.17pm: Don’t forget there’s a continuation of the Museum on the opposite side of the Amphitheatre too – The Folklore Museum! ๐Ÿ‘. Both Museums are free to get in.

The Odeon

“Two for the Luxury Seats please!”

12.25pm: The Odeon is a small 500-seat Roman Theatre on the east-side of the Plaza adjacent to the Amphitheatre. Like its larger sister, it is still in use today, mostly for junior productions featuring children. I did a ‘Karen’ and raced to the top. Unfortunately, I don’t think many noticed! ๐Ÿ˜’

Top of the World (ish!)

Downtown Amman and the Market

12.35pm: The final part of our appreciation of this fine City was a wander through the town and into the Fresh Fruit & Veg Market (aka Albokharyeh Bazaar). By now, I thought the roads were quite busy, but Eddie suggested this was actually quiet and within the next 90 minutes as people leave work for home, the roads become gridlocked.

Well, after wandering along the main drag and into the Market, the sights and sounds were somehow familiar, even though we didn’t understand what was being said. Most of the fruit and veg we recognised, but there were some exceptions. Not surprisingly, the more vibrant colours caught our attention (even if the stall-holders shouting the equivalent of “Get yer Granny Smiffs ‘ere, luv” didn’t). You’ll notice in the first photo above those two rather brightly coloured items. No, they’ve not been treated in a nuclear waste zone, they’ve actually been coloured deliberately by beetroot juice (it’s a thing out here, apparently!). From back to front, they’re actually cauliflower and parsnip!

Yes, it was a real assault on the senses (in a good way) and great fun to look around and see how busy the location was. ๐Ÿ‘


Over 100-year history

1.20pm: Eddie took us to Lunch at the famous downtown ‘Hashem‘. It has been here for over 100 years and is still run by the same family. It offered simple fare – ‘Falafels r Us!’ (sorta!) – and its fame had been brought about by celebs, politicians and actors/actresses also paying a visit through the years. A quick look around the walls revealed photographs of Johnny Depp through to Sadam Hussein – plus many other ‘well knowns’.

Lunch is served!

Well, that was another good experience! Tasty food and lightning-fast service too!

Back to Base!

1.45pm: With Lunch over, we headed back to the minibus and we were soon at the Hotel. We spent the afternoon around the indoor pool before freshening up for our meal tonight.

Evening Meal

xx.xxpm: We took pot luck’ tonight. The immediate area is well-served for eateries so we simply wandered out and picked one that looked good! ๐Ÿ‘

After ‘running the gauntlet’ up and down the famous Rainbow Street, we settled on ‘Nervana‘. The pushy guy on the door had accosted us (in a nice-ish way – it’s what they do out here!) on our way up and we promised we MIGHT be back once we’d checked out the competition. Having looked at the others, he was delighted to see us back, and we were given a table with a rooftop view.

The service was typically over the top with the owner being super-hospitable throughout our meal (it suited us!). The food was very tasty but not particularly on the healthy side, although we did get a (small) side of vegetables. ๐Ÿ˜›. Jo, if you’re reading this, I will be doing double-distance when we get back, honest!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ. To complete the unhealthiness of our venture, Ralph and I picked up a Cornetto lookalike on the walk back.

9.10pm: We’re back in the room, reflecting on our busy, but enjoyable day!

Tomorrow, it’s more of the same, as we travel south for another guided tour. This time it’s Madaba, about 45 minutes away!

9.45pm: Sleep well. See you tomorrow! ๐Ÿ’ค๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ’ค๐Ÿ˜ด

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